POLITICS

If voter ID was about minority disenfranchisement, then it seems to have failed

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney,Voter Registration

The primary consequence of Republican state-level laws requiring voters to present identification or prove citizenship was probably a higher turnout of minority Democrats, as liberals successfully painted these measures as modern-day Jim Crow.

Arizona had a law requiring people to prove their citizenship in order to register to vote. Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic wrote “the larger purpose and effect of the laws is to disenfranchise Hispanic voters….”

Unlike Cohen, I cannot read the minds of state legislators. Maybe they were trying to deter legitimate voters on the assumption that the kind of voters turned off or turned away by ID laws would be disproportionately Democratic. I wouldn’t put that past politicians.

But the actual effect of the law might have been quite different.

“Eighty percent of those who were rejected were non-Hispanic whites,” reported Nina Totenberg at NPR. That’s seems like a pretty high percentage, considering that only 57 percent of Arizona’s population is non-Hispanic white and 74 percent of the state’s electorate is non-Hispanic white.

Those numbers also show that non-Hispanic whites are less likely to be unregistered voters than others — which makes it even more surprising that so many of the rejected applicants would be white.

It’s possible Hispanics were deterred from even trying to register by the proof-of-citizenship regulations. But the data we have now suggests that the proof-of-citizenship rules disproportionately kept out white voters.

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